5 tech tools behind Singapore’s vaccine rollout

By Yun Xuan Poon

Interview with Alan Goh, Assistant Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of the VacTech Workgroup, IHiS.

Two things have the power to convince hesitant citizens to sign up for a jab, a study by The Economist found. The first is a surge in the number of local Covid-19 cases. The second is a speedy, well-executed vaccination campaign.

Singapore has administered more than 7 million doses as of 31 July, according to the Ministry of Health. It aims to fully vaccinate about 80 per cent of the population by early September. “This means Singapore will have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. It puts us in a strong position to transit to a Covid-19-resilient society,” said health minister Ong Ye Kung.

The city state has turned to tech to ensure it stays on track. GovInsider spoke to Alan Goh, deputy chairman of healthtech agency IHiS’s VacTech Workgroup, to learn more about the tools coordinating Singapore’s nationwide vaccinations.

1. The backbone of it all

Singapore appointed IHiS to provide tech and expertise to both public and private healthcare providers. Its services help more than 65 providers across the island, including primary care clinics and community clubs that have been converted into vaccination centres.

The backbone holding all of this up is GPConnect, the central portal used at all major vaccination sites. It takes care of the entire process: from registration and screening to vaccination and post-vaccination observation.

The system automatically fills in screening questionnaires and vaccine order forms based on pre-configured settings on brand, dose sequence and quantity, Goh says. “This significantly increased the ease of documentation for all processes, as well as minimised the need for repetitive data entry, reducing human error,” he adds.

It can also print auto-populated patient information, second appointment and vaccination records, so staff don't need to write this by hand. The system was even modified to display each patients’ observation end time, so staff could easily identify who was safe to leave the centre after their shot.

Using the same system across the island allows each vaccination site to follow standard procedures, such as allergy checks, and capture all the necessary information for national records, Goh says.

As vaccinations progressed, IHiS adapted GPConnect to respond quickly to nationwide changes. For instance, when the Moderna vaccine was approved after Pfizer’s, IHiS edited the screening and order templates to include the new vaccine. It also made it easier to make similar edits in the future.

GPConnect was originally built for clinics to manage electronic health records. It was later repurposed for the community care facilities, which housed Covid-positive patients with mild symptoms.

2. Home vaccination support


Singapore wanted to ensure homebound patients could still get vaccinated. It set up home vaccination teams to go the distance, even onto the offshore island of Pulau Ubin.

This allowed teams “to reach out to a wider group of eligible patients who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks due to their limited mobility”, Goh shares.

IHiS created an “ultra-lightweight” portal that mirrors GPConnect for healthcare workers to use on iPads, he says. This has many of GPConnect’s features: including a screening template, allergy records, and patients’ vaccination history to check they have the right brand and are at the correct dosage.

3. Clean up data discrepancies

Singapore’s 137 vaccination sites collect masses of records each day. This needs to be cleaned up to ensure national databases are updated and accurate.

IHiS has built tools to automatically identify data inconsistencies. “For some easier inconsistencies, the solutions would also automatically correct the data,” Goh notes. For instance, the tools can identify and resolve typos, which may happen when staff enter the wrong vaccine batch number.

Errors could also arise when a patient obtains Singapore citizenship between doses. The database could show just one dose under the new citizenship identity number, which would affect the patient’s vaccination certificate. The tools help to reconcile changes in citizenship status.

4. Pick a date

IHiS created a tool to integrate GPConnect with the national appointment system built by GovTech. The national appointment system verifies patient identity, ensures they are suitable for taking the vaccine, and tells patients which clinics have a shorter waiting time, wrote GovTech’s Open Government Products unit.

5. Check vaccination status

Once vaccinated, citizens can easily view their status and records online on a dashboard on the HealthHub app. This is a one-stop app where patients can book doctor appointments, make payments and buy medications.

These records can be downloaded as a PDF file and used as proof of vaccination in some schools or workplaces, Goh explained.

A well-thought out vaccination campaign goes a long way in encouraging citizens to get vaccinated. Singapore has pulled together records from across the nation and integrated various platforms to ensure they receive their shots safely and speedily.